Browse millions of immigration records, photographs and old government files at Australia’s national repository of historical documents.
The National Archives of Australia was officially formed in 1961 to preserve and promote access to important documents from the country’s history. It holds everything from government legislation to blueprints and patent applications. There’s a series of permanent exhibits as well as frequent special exhibitions, lecture series and workshops.
Set your mind on a topic and make your way over to a reading room. Search the archives online before you visit and order documents ahead of your arrival. You’ll have access to military records, declassified intelligence, immigration and departure forms, among other documents.
Be sure to take a look at the permanent exhibits to see some of the archives’ most important and interesting material. Visit the Federation Gallery to learn about the founding of Australia. You’ll see the original Australian Constitution, the Royal Commission of Assent and other documents related to the federation of the six colonies in 1901. Memory of a Nation displays an extensive collection of migration selection documents, photographs and information about influential people, inventions and events.
Move on to Discovering Mildenhall’s Canberra to admire the photographs taken by W.J. Mildenhall, the photographer commissioned to document the capital’s construction. The Faces of Australia wall features a selection of photographs of people from around the country during the booming post-World War II years. Settle down for a coffee in the café, which contains an exhibition about books once banned in Australia.
The archives also has a constantly changing range of exhibitions on topics as diverse as fashion, anthropology and politics. Check the website for details.
The National Archives is located on Queen Victoria Terrace, not far from Old Parliament House. There is free two-hour parking in front of the building. For longer visits, pay to park in Federation Mall, a street not far from the archives. ACTION buses from Canberra’s central business district also stop nearby.
The archives is open every day except national holidays. Admission is free.